Restarting Running

Yoga

Having spent the first half of the year training for the Etape, I spent a whole lotta time on a bike and sidelined running to focus on that. The Etape and all its training really took a lot out of me. It was an insane challenge for me and I won’t lie, I was relieved when it was over. A week before the Etape, I found out I’d got in to the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco in October. I allowed myself a week off before I dived right in to marathon training. I had no idea how my body would react after having not run for a few months, so how have the last few weeks training been?

People told me different things about the effect cycling would have on my running. The consensus was it’d do nothing for my speed. I would, in all likelihood, be slower. That has most definitely turned out to be the case. I had convinced myself that while sure, I may be slower, surely my endurance would be through the roof. Sadly, not true. I’ve gone back to running and am most definitely experiencing struggles.

I’m frustrated because running is my ‘thing’, or one of them at least. And right now, I feel like I suck at it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a spectacular runner by any means. I’m a natural 12 minute miler. It took me an incredible amount of work to get to be able to run an 8 minute mile. I fully accepted I’d never be on the Olympic marathon squad, but I was proud of my improvements. Now it seems I’m almost right back to my early running days. I don’t think I’ve made it through a run yet without having to take a little walk break (only of a minute or so but still, I’m kicking myself every time).

The marathon is in October so I’ve got basically two months to train. I eased myself back into running while on holiday in Canada. I was just doing a short loop every day, just to get my body used to it again and since being back from my vacay, have locked down my training plan and thrown myself full steam into it. A couple of Saturdays ago, I met up with some of my Run Dem Crew brethren to do a 16 miler. The furthest I’d run since March was 5K. I’m willing to admit, this was a ridiculously optimistic goal. We started at Swains Lane (one of the steepest hills in London). I managed two reps of Swains and then we set off on the run. Barely a mile into it, I knew I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. While I love running with my Run Dem peeps, I also really love running alone and think I bit off more than I could chew by making my return to running on a run with so many people. After four and a half miles, which had consisted of a constant internal argument with myself in which the ‘I don’t like this’ side of my brain kept consistently winning, I decided to bow out and catch the tube home.

Running

I know what works for me and I know when I run best. I got up at 5:30am the next day and was out the door by 6am. I ran. Alone. No headphones. Just the sound of my heartbeat and occasional traffic. I just wanted to see how far I could get. I ran from East London to West London and when all was said and done, I’d racked up (a slow) 11 miles. I have it in me, I just needed to do it alone.

But now, having ‘eased myself back in’ to running, I know that for me to progress in any meaningful way, I need to submit to the pain portion of training. I need to push myself harder, I need to do speed sessions, I need to get to a track and have the kind of session that leaves your legs wobbly and your lungs on the asphalt. But I’m scared.

Quite frankly, I think I’m a little traumatised from the Etape. It was such a physically and emotionally draining experience for me. I think we often don’t fully grasp exactly what we put our bodies through as Street Athletes. We think that because it’s our hobby as opposed to our job, that somehow it’s not as serious or doesn’t count. But it is, and it does, and it’s hard. And however strong you may like to think you are, sometimes it takes more than a couple of days to fully process what happened in your last event and move on to the next thing.

I look at where I am now in my physical and mental well being compared to three years ago when I was just dragging my ass off the couch and I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I like being hardcore and badass and pushing myself to be better and do more, but sometimes, I think I need to cut my self some slack from the continuous ass whoopings I give it.

On Saturday, I have 17 miles to run. While I wait for my physical self to get with the program, it looks like the majority of this training will be run with heart.

Follow me on Instagram (@BangsandaBun) for training pics

Comments
11 Responses to “Restarting Running”
  1. Nick Bain says:

    Great post, love the fact you know it’s not all fun or easy.
    If all it took was your heart you’d finish the marathon tomorrow, keep it up your legs will catch up soon enough
    N x

    • Spikes says:

      Ahh thanks for that. Sending all sorts of positive vibes to my legs hoping they’ll catch up soon!

  2. rachel says:

    BANGZ <3!

    Ps. everything you said about effects of cycling on running, so true. I honestly thought cycling would up my endurance when running when I took my likkle break. NOT THE CASE YO. x

    • Spikes says:

      Seriously, what it UP with that?! I really thought I’d be able to Forrest Gump my way through life running after all that cycling. What a dream killer.

  3. Sam McKeown says:

    Great post- I really feel for you as there is nothing worse than one of those runs where the “bad” voices are telling you that you can’t do it, that you’re crap so shouldn’t even bother etc etc. but as you did, the best thing is to get back on that horse and believe. And PS , anyone who can bang out 11 miles is a runner in my book, 12 minute miles or not.

    • Spikes says:

      Drowning out that voice is one of biggest challenges in running ain’t it? It’s a right bugger! Cheers me dears, I shall keep chugging along.

  4. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I do like to see posts on struggle. I’ve only started running after 3 years of inactivity due to a stupid back injury, and It’s…so…effing….haaaaaard! On my best days I do a maximum of 3 km maybe, but today for example it was not good. I was running with my boyfriend (he’s a true runner like you) and even he seemed to be bored of my struggling and complaining. So it’s encouraging to read that at times it’s also hard for you. I guess bodies are funny in that way, getting used to behaviours and routines and it also shows how much of a big thing running is! Kudos to you for crossing London like that, and mostly, sticking to it all even when it’s not fun.

    On a completely unrelated topic, I would love to read (or hear, I loved your YoutTube videos) your thoughts on having a long, dense mane like yours, and how to maintain it as a runner. I have long, hair, lots of it, and the whole “being pretty on rest days” is especially hard if you run every other day. Do you wash it every other day? Does it fall out or break more because of that and also tying it up? bla bla bla… Maybe one day you can write about this 😉

    Great post Bangs xxx

    • Spikes says:

      Hey Jessie, I really think it’s so important to talk about the struggle, ’cause not enough people do. I totally see where you’re coming from and I feel your frustration. But we’ve gotta keep reminding ourselves that even though it may not feel like it, every time we get out and pound the pavement, we’re improving somehow. Half the battle with running is just getting out the door, so at least we’re winning on that front!

      That’s a great idea about the hair post because I get asked about this a lot. I will try do a post on that for you soon. Sending you good vibes. Please keep going and don’t feel discouraged. We all struggle!

  5. Amanda says:

    Fantastic post!!!! Thank you. I have been reading you for a while and have been impressed with your drive. I started triathlon last year and got in the best shape of my post-baby life at 40. By year end though I was nursing a sore hip full of tendonitis. I had to stop running. I am now finally trying to get back to running and it is SO HARD. So reading your post was really comforting that we all struggle. I always knew it would be hard if I ever stopped running. I will get back. Good luck!! keep us posted on your progress.

  6. shaun baird says:

    I’ve been getting back into running too after a few months out, and its taken me a good 4 weeks to feel like I’ve improved. J now feel i can push up the hills, like i am in control, instead of letting the hill make life difficult..

    always remember that it doesn’t matter if its a 14 minute mile or a 7 minute mile.. A mile is still a mile..

    well done anyway on the journey back ????

  7. Dan says:

    Great post! Running isn’t a simple sport. You have to be prepared in all aspects. You just don’t go to the race track and run. This post will surely help amateur runners to understand their sport more.